ideas – the precursors of innovation

How do you generate new ideas? Particularly those that lead to a new innovation or business.

I recently posted a quote by Linus Pauling on Twitter ‘the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas’. I consider myself to be a bit of an ideas man and have purposely implemented a simple, well known system to keep track of them all. All you need to do is simply ….. WRITE THEM DOWN!

How many times have you stumbled upon the next biggest marketing strategy, web 2.0 venture, business model or treatment for cancer (yes I know, extreme example) in the middle of the night and forgotten it by day break. When the light bulb sparks, no matter how ridiculous the idea is, I force myself to write it down (and date it) in a good ole 2B5. I also keep updated digital off and online copies (Google Docs).

Of course at the time of conception you don’t know whether the idea is novel, has a market/ need or is even feasible. Despite this, write it down! The potential the idea possesses may only become apparent until a later date. More so the combination of more than one idea may spin out a new separate idea entirely.

I also suggest reviewing this list monthly. Give it a quick glance over and see if anything pops out. Highlight those that have potential and invest time to investigate their viability. A 12 hour start-up perhaps?

Unfortunately one of the best ways to confirm that your ideas are viable is actually when someone else ends up successfully implementing them before you do. Idea #157 down the toilet:

As the saying goes ‘Ideas are Cheap‘, while true in terms of their creation, the value that one may embody (those 1/100 ones) are invaluable.

Proven method: Over the past 3.5 years my list has made $14,000 for me through University related innovation or entrepreneurship competitions.

Next installment: Where do ideas come from?


Graeme @


One response to “ideas – the precursors of innovation

  1. Write them down. Bang on.

    How do I do this?
    – I have an ideas notebook, Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison all went through notebooks full of ideas like toilet paper. Write them down. This follows me essentially everywhere.
    – Monday Ideas Post, every Monday I share an idea I’ve had over the past week (click my name for a list of them), getting the ideas out of my head and out into the world works two fold, it gives me clarity, provides feedback. I continue this through the week with blogging.
    – Cellphone.

    Collate them, write them down, juxtapose them, compare them with other models. Completing this exercise makes your future ideas stronger, smarter, solid. It is like blogging, each exercise to communicate intelligent ideas makes you a smarter person, it makes you more analytical, more succinct and keeps you on your toes.

    12 Hour Startup is my idea on how to test them (thanks for the mention btw) in a business sense. How often do you visit an organisation to find the staff know the answers to the problems but NEVER get a chance to test or prove them.

    Am enjoying your thoughts and look forward to your post on Where do ideas come from?

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